I Have An Insomniac 2 1/2 Year old

By Sarah Fader

I’ve dreaded writing this, because if the words come out they make it real, but I can’t take it anymore, I have to let it out. My child is an insomniac.

There have been several nights that he’s been up until midnight and slightly beyond.

Now, before you judge me, hear me out. We have a bedtime routine and it starts out around 6:30pm. We have dinner, we watch one episode of the insidious Max and Ruby or Blue’s Clues (his choice), he has a bath, we read 1-3 books at which point he appears to be sleepy. But then…as he’s lying in bed next to me (because as I’ve mentioned in previously, we co-sleep) he starts off whispering:

“I hungry.”

It gets progressively louder until he is audible and finally loud.
Then he says:

I’ve tried both giving him the sandwich or ignoring his pleas. Both result in further sleep rebellion.

In addition to saying he’s hungry, he also demands to switch sleeping locations. He’ll be in the bedroom and demand to sleep in the living room on the couch with me. I’ve recently flat out refused, making him stay in the bed.

He also will try to stay awake by demanding more and more books to be read to him.

Now, you might say:
“Get him in his own bed! He’ll sleep better!”

My response:
1. Sure, that would be nice, but guess what? I’m nine months pregnant and too tired to deal with that process.
2. Many families successfully co-sleep, and their kids don’t appear to be insomniacs. Why is my kid refusing to sleep?

You also might suggest, get him into bed at 8pm and ignore his pleas.

My response:
1. Could you ignore your kid who is right next to you and either screaming or asking the same question over and over again?

2. I’ve already done sleep-training and I don’t have the emotional energy to do it again.
3. Please remember, once again, the constraints of my current physical condition. I’m 174 lbs and there is a human incubating in my uterus.

So I ask you, what are my options? And please don’t judge me. I already feel like the worst parent. I need some practical advice to get my kid sleeping.

Sarah Fader records anecdotes from her daily life at at Old School New School Mom. She also currently runs blog workshops for elementary school children in New York City and provides freelance transcription services for major television networks, in between running after a two year old.

64 Responses to I Have An Insomniac 2 1/2 Year old
  1. Trisha Warywoda
    January 11, 2011 | 1:30 pm

    Check out “Little Sugar Addicts” book, it has changed our lives – LITERALLY! My youngest acted like this and much, much worse at bedtime. When we first took her off sugar (at 4 1/2 years, about 2 years ago) she said her body finally felt like it had stopped “doing this” and motioned her hand vibrating – what a revelation for such a young age!

  2. Sarah R.
    January 13, 2011 | 3:15 pm

    I’m a little late in commenting, but I’m so happy that things worked out for you. I have a 2 year old boy (birthday in November) and we went through a similar phase the week between Christmas and New Year’s. He is still in a crib and would say in the sweetest voice possible, “Mommy I want up please.” We also had a similar bedtime routine as yours. I ended up saying (kindly) “It’s time for bed. Mommy and Daddy are tired too.” Then I stood by his crib but made myself as boring as possible. Eventually (after a week) the phase stopped. I haven’t tried cutting back on his naps because I NEED him to take a nap since I work from home.

    I liked how you asked people to not judge you. I don’t know why we as moms pin our children’s sleep issues on our ability to be good moms, but we do! I have been reading your posts here and I have no doubt you are a wonderful, caring mom and your son is blessed to have you for his mom!

  3. Christine
    January 20, 2011 | 1:03 pm

    Hey – is there any chance he has sensory processing difference. The inability to transition to a different state can be part of SPD. You could try some sensory techniques like brushing or joint compression. You may have heard of brushing for kids who are tactile defensive, but it can help kids whose systems need organizing. You could also try “heavy work” before bedtime. Before the bath and quiet show – do some wheelbarrow walking. Again this can get feedback to his system that can help organize sensory input and process what his body is feeling. It’s possible he is confusing hunger with tiredness. When in doubt, I vote for feed him. If he is a bit hungry he won’t fall asleep. Finally, I know there will be those who say he is too old, but I would try rocking him before bed. I went through a similar phase with my son before he was diagnosed and we did OT, and rocking saved the day. Good luck and hang in there!

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